Freyda Sanders was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Russian immigrants. She was raised in a non-religious, leftist environment, where politics -- from pogroms to the Scottsboro boys -- were discussed at the dinner table. Her mother came from a Zionist family and while raising three children, remained politically active in Youth Aliyah and the Democratic Party. Her mother's activism served as a model for Sanders.
In the course of her life, Sanders has had several careers and holds degrees in three different fields. Her early training was in chemical engineering. She then got a degree in labor economics at Columbia, but found no jobs open to her as a Jewish woman. So Sanders began teaching and earned a Masters Degree in Education from Harvard University. When her children were small, Sanders taught teenage girls at the Bergen County children's detention center. These girls had committed offenses and were held at the detention center while they waited for court appearances or placements. This experience brought Sanders to the field of psychology, in which she earned another degree. Sanders then worked as a school psychologist for twenty years and found it to be a fulfilling career.
In addition to her active career, Sanders has found great satisfaction through her activism with Hadassah, for which she has held many official positions, including the presidency of several chapters. Through Hadassah, Sanders became more involved in the Jewish community. She and her husband were active members of Conservative synagogues in both Akron, Ohio, and Teaneck, New Jersey.
Sanders raised three children, one of whom lives in Israel.